21 October 2018
The Influence of Evil Within Us
The human mind is said to be capable of great things, impeccable things. Things we didn’t even think possible. There’s a fine line between the good and evil we do, from the most compassionate gestures to the dirtist of deeds. We are capable to anything we put our minds to. So why does society choose such evil approach of life opposed to the good?
After researching several articles, such as Kate Douglas’s Homo Virtuous?, Robert Simon’s Serial Killers, Evil and Us, and also A case of split personality in puzzling Chicago murders. I have come to the conclusion that the way we are psychologically made up plays the biggest role in determining the good and/or evil we do.
Our brains are chemically wired to interpret things around us, most of which is for our own self benefit. Some of us being more selfish than others. Within the literature we have read, I have determined that personal gain plays a huge role in determining if we carry out with good or evil. For example, in A case of split personality in puzzling Chicago murders, it states “Apparently, he could only find sexual gratification through burglaries. He later found that killing during the burglaries added to the thrill.” (paragraph 5) In this article, he [William Heirens] discovered that robbing set off something inside of him that gave him the equivalence of sexual gratification. When you do something that makes you feel good then you want to keep doing it, such as working out or eating right. As he kept experimenting he found that murdering added to the thrill which had made it even more addicting.
I also found that executing good deeds and expecting something in return isn't just common in humans, but also in animals. While reviewing Kate Douglas’s Homo virtuous? I ran across the quote, “It [reciprocity] can explain the altruistic behaviour of vampire bats, for example: they starve to death after a couple of nights without a blood meal, so sharing with a roost-mate that is likely to return the favour is an obvious strategy to help them pull through tough periods.” (paragraph 9) Though this example is not as relevant as the others it still gives good insight on things we do for personal gain. Bats share things with others in order to gain what they need in rough times just as we do as humans.
As a species, it is near impossible for us to congratulate someone on something they have achieved yet so easy to destruct what they have accomplished. We only care about what we have achieved personally and feel it is essential to gloat in order to make others feel poorly about their accomplishments. When someone has something we don’t, we don’t try to work for it but rather degrade them. In Robert I. Simon’s article Serial Killers, Evil, and Us it states, “‘You have something that I want but do not have. I feel resentfully deficient and angry. I must destroy what you have (or you).’” (paragraph 14) which ties in greatly to what drives the human mind to conduct evil instead of good.
The amount of people spectating is also a factor that affects the evil we put on to others. John List observed in Douglas’s Homo Virtuous, “John List from the University of Chicago found that when the transactions were done under his watchful eye, dealers played fair, coming up with a card that was worth what the collector had offered. But when the dealers were not told they were taking part in an experiment, many ripped off their customers.” (Pg. 2 paragraph 6) This piece of evidence is giving off that if you are not known in a place and don’t know you are being watched that you feel that you can easily get away with things you may not normally do, such as ripping people off, and in extreme cases even killing. Our minds are embedded with twisted secrets, and evil desires that we wish for.
Being anonymous happens to be one of those many desires for William Heirens. In A case of split personality in puzzling Chicago murders, “However, they couldn’t track down Heirens’ apparent partner, George. Heirens was given sodium pentothal and interrogated. During questioning under the truth serum, Heirens claimed that George Murman had killed Suzanne Degnan. However, it quickly became evident that George wasn’t a real person at all, but an alter ego of Heirens himself.” (paragraph 4) People will do anything to cover up something terrible they have done, such as convincing themselves that they didn't do the crime to a point of an alter ego or even a multiple personality.
Humans are a walking contradiction. We are said to be good, but we establish this “good” in such evil ways and vice versa. In Simon’s Serial Killers, Evil, and Us it says, “But as Gacy himself once said, ‘A clown can get away with murder,’ and he did raping, sodomizing, torturing, and strangling to death thirty-three young men over the course of more than a decade.” (pg. 23 paragraph 2) Though Gacy was seen as an average community member, who gave back by performing as a clown for ill children, his story had a twist. Gacy wasn’t as average as he seemed, he had some villainous hobbies.
How we are wired within our mind determines our character which can play a huge role in whether you want to build our degrade people or objects. “Character, our core personality, is a dominant force in determining whether we behave constructively or destructively towards others.” (paragraph 17) When we have a destructive character it means that we have a destructive personality. We use the qualities that we possess to destroy people rather than to care for them. If we have a constructive personality then that means that we are using our traits to build people which shows the good within us. This idea leads to the quote, “But our character not only determines our destiny, it also has an impact upon the destiny of others. Hitler’s character destroyed the lives of millions. Mother Teresa’s character enriched and ennobled the lives of many.” (paragraph 17) If we retrace our steps to the previous quote, whether we are wired to be constructive or destructive can play a huge role on the destiny of others and ourselves. This can oftentimes be connected to what your ancestors character was like since genes are passed down. We are made up of how our family is, we receive the genes which are passed down from them which can be both good and evil. Most families tend to get along and those genes will be passed but if not, well you're in for a ride. A quote that backs up this is shown in Douglas’s Homo virtuous? “Individuals who helped their close relatives ended up passing on more genes, including those pushing us to help our own flesh and blood. So, like bees in a hive, we have evolved strong nepotistic instincts and, by this argument, niceness to non relatives is simply a case of overspill.” (paragraph 8)
In conclusion, good and evil is rooted within our minds. We are capable of everything, and anything. As a species our minds are embedded with demented desires and dreams. We go to the ends of the earth to show that there is good in our evil. Anonymity, personal gain, and our chemical makeup all contribute to our psychological ways of good and evil, even though ebil is more dominant in society today.
Douglas, Kate. “Homo Virtuous?” New Scientist, vol. 216, no. 2890, 10 Nov. 2012, pp. 42-45.
Science Reference Center. EBSCOhost.
Simon, Robert I. “Serial Killers, Evil, and Us” National Forum, vol. 80, no. 4, Fall 2000, pp. 23-28.
MasterFILE Premier. EBSCOhost.
“A Case of Split Personality in Puzzling Chicago Murders.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, www.history.com/this-day-in-history/a-case-of-split-personality-in-puzzling-chicago-murders.